Professional and college sports leagues filed a lawsuit [complaint text, PDF] against the state of New Jersey Monday trying to enjoin a new law that would legalize sports gambling. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) [corporate websites] filed suit in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] alleging that the new Sports Gambling Law violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) [text], the federal regulation prohibiting sports gambling. PASPA sequesters legal sports gambling to four states, which does not include New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie [official website] signed the Sports Gambling Law in January following its passage via referendum [JURIST report] in November, and it is expected to go into effect in the next two months. The plaintiffs contend that irreparable harm will be done to the sports industry if the state law is allowed to go into effect:
Amateur and professional sports are an integral part of American culture, particularly among the country's youth who often look up to athletes as role models. The sponsorship, operation, advertising, promotion, licensure, and authorization of sports gambling in New Jersey would irreparably harm amateur and professional sports by fostering suspicion that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition. As Congress recognized when it enacted PASPA, the proliferation of sports gambling threatens to harm the reputation and goodwill of Plaintiffs, and to adversely affect the way the public views amateur and professional sports. Plaintiffs cannot be compensated in money damages for the harm that sports gambling poses to the character and integrity of their respective sporting events. Once their reputation and goodwill have been compromised, and the bonds of loyalty and devotion between fans and teams have been broken, Plaintiffs will have been irreparably injured in a manner that cannot be measured in dollars.In response Christie contended that New Jersey, in regulating sports gambling, is legalizing activity that goes on in every state regardless of the law [AP report] and that regulating gambling is federal overreach.
There is a presumptive prohibition on most forms of gambling in the US, although restrictions on some forms of Internet gambling were loosened late last year when the Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified that non-sports online gambling is presumptively legal [JURIST report]. JURIST Guest Columnist Patrick Fleming [official profile] argued that the decision bolstered the legitimacy of Internet betting [JURIST comment], yet the gambling landscape remains a patchwork of many distinct standards and statutory definitions. The DOJ has not commented on the recent New Jersey attempts to legalize sports gambling, nor whether they will take action against them in Federal court.